The burden of proof

May 10, 2012



News Editor


After a four-year moratorium, the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Since then, 1,264 people have been executed in the United States. Only 28 of those executions have taken place in Louisiana, but our neighbors to the west, the “great state of Texas,” have executed a whopping 474 people.


The federal government sees capital punishment as a deterrent to crime.


If capital punishment were working as deterrence, I don’t believe there would be 3,199 people on death row in the United States.


According to the US News and World Report, Louisiana has been voted the most violent state 20 years in a row. If deterrence worked it would be the safest.


To me the thought of spending the rest of my life behind bars is enough of a deterrence to abide by the law.


Honestly, I believe capital punishment is an easy way out for offenders. The government kills them so they don’t have to live with the effects of their crime for the rest of their lives. I believe having to relive your crime daily is the most suitable punishment for capital offenses.


Secondly, I believe it is conflicting for a government to punish death with death. It seems a bit hypocritical.


Kudos to Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who two weeks ago signed a compromise bill which made Connecticut the 17th state to ban the death penalty.


With 33 states to go, maybe capital punishment is finally on its way to being relinquished. I am not optimistic that day will ever come, but I am hopeful.


Since capital punishment is far from being nonexistent, perhaps the government should consider a few factors when it comes to sentencing.


First, there are 2,019,234 prisoners in America, and more than 700,000 of those prisoners are between the ages of 18 and 29.


At age 18 people are tried as adults, but let’s face it, most 18-year-olds do not have the maturity or mindset of adults. I can think of numerous mistakes I made at 18, and beyond that, that had I been more mature I would never have made. Even with murder, robbery and rape I believe people make decisions out of impulse or panic and they change their lives, and often someone else’s, forever.


I believe the government should give more consideration when sentencing young adults. People deserve a second chance and I believe people can change and learn from their mistakes. No one who has seen the error of their way and been rehabilitated should have to spend 75 percent of their life behind bars.


Secondly, since 1993, 18 people serving on death row in the United States prison system have been exonerated. According to the Innocence Project, these prisoners served a combined 209 years in prison. That is 209 years of human life that was deprived of freedom.


According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 273 prisoners have been exonerated thanks to the use of DNA testing as of 2011.


DNA testing did not begin until 1985, and according to the Innocence Project, about 25 percent of wrongful convictions are overturned by DNA testing.


If this many people were exonerated based on DNA testing that proved their innocence, then how many innocent people have already been executed?


The federal government states that no one has been innocently executed since 1930, yet cases such as Troy Davis’ prove otherwise.


I realize it is important to catch and punish the guilty, but it is also crucial that the government protect the innocent.


Amie Rolland is a senior journalism and pre-law major from Shreveport who serves as news editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to asr017@latech.edu.


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